TV: Is Charmed Pushing a Conservative Agenda?

For all its feminist butt kicking, I have noticed a pattern as I’ve rewatched Charmed over the last few months: its seemingly conservative agenda.

Sure, there are monstrous demons from throughout the ages; single, sexy, confident females kicking ass and taking names (mostly braless, might I add?!); and an on-the-surface progressive feel to the show, but there might be more at work on Charmed.

Take, for example, in season two when Phoebe tries to help Eric and his father, who have transcribed the ancient Akashic records, and are threatened with brain death by the Collectors, who want the information stored in their minds. While Eric manages to escape the Collectors with the help of the Charmed ones, his father remains in a coma in hospital. When the sisters urge Eric to leave his father to save himself, he refuses, saying his dad is still alive. If we’ve learnt anything from Grey’s Anatomy and all the other doctor dramas, it’s that people rarely recover from brain injury and, in my opinion, the humane thing to do is turn off the life support system.

Also in season two, when Prue is cursed by a Darklighter for trying to save a Whitelighter-to-be (played by Amy Adams, if you’re interested in a bit of trivia), Leo says that suicide prevents someone earmarked to become a future Whitelighter from doing so. Kind of like suicide can prevent a person from going to heaven…?

On the topic of religion, in one episode (for the life of me I can’t recall which one, I just wrote down the quote. Don’t take my word on this, but I think it may have been “Apocalypse, Not”, in season two.) Leo mentions that good and evil have been embroiled in “6,000 years of conflict”. What else allegedly began 6,000 years ago? The creation of the world. A not-very-subtle nod to the creationism theory.

Perhaps there was an especially conservative writer or producer working on season two only, as all these examples stem from that season. A quick IMDb and Wikipedia search yielded not many results supporting this theory.

What are your thoughts on the conservative nature of the series?

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Power of Work/Life Balance.

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Image via CharmedWiki.

TV: Witch Trial—Burning at the Stake on Charmed.

2009: The year Michael Jackson died, 173 people perished on Black Saturday, and America’s first black president, Barack Obama, took office.

However, in Charmed’s imagining of a futuristic 2009, 1999’s flashforward episode “Morality Bites”, witches have been exposed and are now being burned at the stake.

Phoebe is set to burn for taking justice into her own hands and using her powers to avenge a friend’s death, “seeking to defy human nature with her way of life”.

Fastforward two years to 2011, and it’s not such a different place.

Uganda tried to push through the Kill the Gays bill, women still have to march in (Slut)walks to exert freedom of sexuality and reject blame for sexual assault, and Australia is still floundering over a carbon tax.

I’ve written on this here blog before that sometimes I get the feeling the world is regressing, especially in terms of the environment and reproductive rights.

We still vilify those who dare to lead a lifestyle outside the norm, whether it is viewed as a “choice” or not. In Charmed’s fictional world, witches could be seen as a metaphor for the “other”: people of colour, the gays, people with disabilities and, most pertinently in 2011, transpeople.

The episode could also be a metaphor for the death penalty.

When Phoebe kills baseballer Cal Greene for killing her friend, she takes the law into her own hands, and is therefore sentenced to death. An eye for an eye.

Before Phoebe accepts her fate and submits to burning alive, she tells her executioner, Nathaniel Pratt, that while she’s paying for her crime, there will come a day when he’ll have to pay for his, too. While the death penalty isn’t an issue in Australia (if it were I’d be—controversially, perhaps—for it. However, there seems to be something sickly satisfying for victims and their families to see a perpetrator rot in prison for life… Jaycee Duggard’s abductors, anyone?), the question of who decides if a person dies and who administers the lethal injection (or in this case, “gathers the kindling”) remains. And how can a person live with that on their conscience.

Charmed may be all fluff, unrealistic demon-fighting outfits and “nipple fats”, as my friend Eddie noted, but every now and then it does deal with the big issues, consciously or not.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Charmed: The Power of the Work/Life Balance.

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[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Rihanna’s “Man Down”: Revenge is a Dish Best Served in Cold Blood.

Images via Wikia, Gamespot, PPP The Power of 3, Hopeless Obsession.

TV: Charmed—The Power of Work/Life Balance.

I’ve recently been getting back into my favourite childhood show, Charmed. I’ve got all the seasons on box set, but I still have never seen the final season! I’m aiming to get through it this time.

Despite all the midriff tops and high heels whilst fighting supernatural beings, and damaged household items, buildings and cars which seem to miraculously be fixed by the next episode, if not before, Charmed is a lesson in the work/life balance.

Prue, the head of the Charmed Ones for the first three seasons, struggles with her bosses at Buckland auction house turning into warlocks, a takeover bid by a new company determined to make several million dollars in one day, and quitting the firm to become a freelance photographer. She juggles all this with being somewhat of a second mother to Piper and Phoebe, the token dates and flings the producers throw to her every now and then, and being a witch.

In “Which Prue Is It, Anyway?”, from season one, Prue casts a spell to produce two carbon copies of herself, which carry out tasks such as dealing with her ex-boyfriend and cop on her case, Andy, whilst another one works on a spell with Piper and Phoebe, and yet another goes to Buckland’s to finish up some work. Talk about being a Superwoman!

Piper, who turns out to be the most level headed and conventionally “normal” of the sisters three (keeping in mind I haven’t seen the final season and how Piper’s life eventuates, but I do know that *spoiler alert* Phoebe gets married), gets fed up with being walked over in her season one job as manager of Quake restaurant and quits to open her own club, P3. She then gets seriously involved with whitelighter Leo, whom she marries in season three, and bores two children to him, Wyatt and Chris. They then get divorced, Piper dates other people, they get back together again… Apart from the anguish of knowing their firstborn, Wyatt, grows up to be evil, Piper’s depiction really is the most realistic of the four Halliwell/Matthews sisters.

Which brings us to Phoebe, the youngest of the sisters (until Paige comes along in season four). She enters the show as a free-spirit with a flawed perception of the future, or so we are told by Prue, who’s had her issues with Phoebe in the past. In the first season alone she works as a hotel psychic, Prue’s assistant at Buckland’s and a real estate agent. After she casts a smart spell in “The Painted World” early on in season two, Phoebe decides to expand her knowledge for good and goes back to college. After graduating in season three (wow, I wish I graduated uni that quickly!), she goes on to write a very successful advice column for “The Bay Mirror”, which fellow successful woman Elise edits. Not to forget her tumultuous personal life, which sees her intense connection with Cole/Balthazar turn her into the queen of the underworld, pregnant with demon spawn, and dealing with the death of a sister and the discovery of a new one.

Speaking of, Paige Matthews enters Piper and Phoebe’s life as a successful counsellor at the beginning of season three. She is unreceptive to being a Charmed One at first, and spends most of the first season trying to maintain a “normal life”, with a job, a boyfriend and a new family who happens to be magical. (She later quits to focus on magic full-time.)

After all, that is what Charmed is all about: sisters who just happen to be witches, and everything that goes along with both those roles. While the manifestation of three fully-groomed and immaculately dressed sister witches each morning in the Halliwell manor, who spend their days flitting about town vanquishing demons, protecting the innocent, working their day jobs, caring for their family, going on dates, maintaining a home, studying, managing their own businesses and what not, is extremely unrealistic, the sheer magnitude of what the Charmed ones have to go through each day is kind of a metaphor for what working women—especially those with an extended family who all happen to live under the one roof—go through on a day-to-day basis. And sometimes, they manage to look just as kick-ass as the Charmed ones.

Images via Wikia, CharmedP3, Fan Pop, YouTube.